Pack a quick and easy picnic with these healthy picnic foods! Spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the outdoors!
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Picnic season is here and I am so excited! As soon as the temperature starts to warm up, almost all of our afternoons will be spent out of doors, either in our backyard or at a nearby park.
At least once or twice a week, we finish up our morning chores and lessons, throw together a quick picnic, and head to the zoo, to a dock, or to a favorite watering hole to picnic and play.
This has been our routine for years now, and I have gotten really good at assembling lunches that are both easy and still healthy. (This isn’t to say that we never grab fast food, but it’s not something I want to be dependent on most of the time).
I do occasionally bake a batch of muffins or, more recently, a few loaves of sourdough on the weekend, or in the morning while I make breakfast. But, I still NEED to have a variety of other options that can be put together in fifteen minutes or less.
I put together a list of over thirty different ideas for picnic food that are just grab-and-go. Some of them are obvious, but the point is to not feel like you’re always taking the same ol’ thing every time you go out. Look over this list, save it for future reference, and add a little variety to your picnic life this summer!
WANT MORE LIKE THIS? Check out my Family Adventuring page for ideas on how to pack the car, what to eat for dinner after adventures, summer mom hacks, and more. You can also follow me on Instagram for regular lunch inspiration and tips and tricks.
OUR FAVORITE PICNIC GEAR
Almost just as important as what you’re going to eat on your picnic is how you’re going to transport it. As a self-proclaimed picnic-pro, I can tell you from lots of experience that all the items on this list have been tested and tried at the beach/zoo/park/dock/road trip/etc! Plus, they’re all reusable, so you can feel good about not creating a lot of extra waste.
- Backpack Cooler Bag (I went through half a dozen different coolers and picnic baskets before settling on this backpack cooler. It’s a great size and so easy to transport)
- Plastic food containers with lids (I like to use glass containers at home for food storage, but prefer plastic for picnics to cut down on the weight of what we are carrying. Plastic containers are great for items like sandwiches, salad, watermelon/fruit salad, etc that you don’t want to get “smooshed”)
- Plastic mason jar lids (love the colors and the fact that these can double as little plates)
- Grove Reusable Bags (I have a stack of these in three different sizes. I use them all the time and love that they are reusable)
- Jar Jackets— half pint, pint, & 1.5 pint (these are perfect for slipping onto mason jars to keep them from breaking while you’re out)
- Victorinox Paring Knives Trio (always keep a paring knife on hand in my picnic bag!)
- silicon drink lids and straws (these are so convenient for adding a quick lid to jars or cups for younger children)
- Hydrocell water bottles (my kids and I each have one of these in a different color)
- Tea Towels (I like to use these for tablecloths and in lieu of plates)
- Small mason jars (great containers for yogurt parfaits, homemade pudding cups, applesauce, etc)
- Short and squat mason jars (perfect containers for dips and spreads)
30+ Healthy Grab and Go Picnic Foods
A little of this, a little of that is the idea here. Generally, I aim for a variety–making sure we have enough protein to feel full, at least one or two fruits and vegetables, and something for snacking in the in-between times.
Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with some of these foods (and save the easy recipes), and you’ll be ready for adventure at the drop of a hat. Another good idea is to go ahead and fill up a few mason jars with ranch, hummus, spreadable cheese, salsa, etc, at the beginning of the week so you can just pull them out when you need them and return them to the fridge when you’re back home.
Many items on this list are foods that I buy at Costco. Once picnic season starts, I also start buying more convenience foods because I know it will pay off in being able to pack healthy picnics and avoid fast food while we are out.
DIPS & SPREADS
- Best Ever Homemade Ranch
- Perfect Creamy Peanut Butter
- Amazing Fresh Salsa
- One-Minute Guacamole or I like to keep Wholly Guacamole packets in the freezer
- hummus (recipe in my cookbook)
- pimento cheese
- Our Favorite Tuna Salad
- cream cheese plus jam
- easy barbecue dipping sauce
- Cheese slices/sticks/Babybel
- deli meat
- assorted nuts
- dried fruit
- pickle spears
- fresh bread
FRUIT & VEG
- frozen pineapple
- fresh or frozen grapes
- watermelon chunks
- carrot sticks/baby carrots
- sweet pepper slices
- cherry tomatoes
LESS THAN 15-MINUTE PREP
- hard boiled eggs
- yogurt cups (yogurt + a dollop of jam…so easy!)
- tortilla roll-ups (with peanut butter & banana slices, or cream cheese & jam, or deli meat…)
- peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
- pasta salad (easy Margherita Pasta Salad–pictured above, or Fruity Couscous recipes in the lunch chapter of my cookbook)
- fruit & veg smoothies
- Sweet Broccoli Salad
QUICK SNACK FOOD
- pretzels (pair with peanut butter or ranch)
- rice cakes (pair with peanut butter)
- tortilla chips (pair with salsa or guacamole)
- crackers (pair with tuna salad, chicken salad, pimento cheese, or cheese & meat)
- fruit & veg pouches (Costco has a great one we love)
- veggie straws
BONUS IDEAS :: MAKE-AHEAD AND PICNIC ALL WEEK
- 5-minute pudding cups
- Easy Homemade Chicken Salad
- Muffins (Carrot raisin muffins— pictured above, chocolate zucchini muffins, nutty blueberry muffins, banana nut, and raisin date walnut muffins are some of our picnic favorites)
- Homemade Banana Bread (so great to make the morning of, then eat with peanut butter on your picnic!)
- French Bread (made into three thin loaves), Sourdough Boule (more sourdough info here), or store-bought baguettes
- One-Hour Focaccia
I’d also love to hear what your favorite picnic foods are, because we could always use new ideas! Leave your favorites in the comments, and pin this list for future reference!